Saturday, 23 April 2011

Summer has come early

So, it's Easter weekend but it appears the weather is a little confused and thinks it's August bank holday instead. For the past week or so the temperatures in Oxford have been well over 20 degrees. Therefore lunches on pharmacy hill outside the hosptial have become common place and summer dresses and sandals are making an appearance. (Luckily, I already had my summer wardrobe ready and waiting thanks to a recent trip to Mexico.)

Unfortunately I have to work two days of this bank holiday weekend (one down, one to go) however today I have a full day off work. One of the joys of living in Oxford is that by travelling a mile or two out of the city centre you find yourself in rolling countryside. Today I plan to find some countryside, maybe a nice country pub with a beer garden, ideally on the banks of the river. Or maybe I'll just end up sunbathing in a friend's garden with a nice bottle of cider... who knows! The best thing about British bank holiday weekends is that you're allowed (and expected) to be lazy and do whatever you want. Oh and it's also St George's Day so I'm guessing there'll be lots of drinking and celebrations wherever I go.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Gino's Spaghetti House

It only seems right that the place that finally prompted me to blog again should take pride of place as my first real post.

My housemate Yen and I have become accustomed to impromptu dinners at random restaurants either when we're too tired/don't have the ingredients to cook or, on days like today, where we simply want something to do on a glorious spring evening. 

We walked past Gino's Spaghetti House last week whilst on our way to see the replay of the National Theatre's Frankinstein to the Phoenix Picture House in Jericho (more on that later.) We'd already eaten but commented on how great it smelled as we walked past, and vowed to return.

The weather is glorious in Oxford at the moment and having returned from a long day at work it seemed such a shame to waste the evening so I met up with Yen in town with the plan of wandering and dinner. Having spent half an hour chatting in the beachwear section in Debenhams (don't ask!) we went in search of somewhere to eat and remembered the little Italian we had discovered last week.

The place was virtually empty so we did a quick Google search just to make sure it didn't have horrendous reviews and were pleasantly surprised at its four star rating. We decided to risk it! The little restaurant reminded me of one I had previously visited in Bologna, Italy with its indoor ivy and a quirkily painted map of Italy on the ceiling. We were greeted by a super polite waiter who showed us to a little table by the window and presented us with menus. The first thing we noticed was that the prices were very reasonable (as cheap if not cheaper as the chain Italians on George Street.) Fifteen minutes later I was tucking into the "Chef's Special" pizza, which was listed in the menu as 'everything the chef can get his hands on' and made all the more special by the chef coming out of the kitchen to look at me before he prepared the pizza. He judged well with his ham, olive, mushroom and pineapple concoction! I also treated myself to a glass of the house red which gave me ample opportunity to explain to Yen what 'legs' on wine were, something I'd learnt at a wine tasting course a few weeks back. Yen had the Spaghetti Annamaria which combined creamy and tomato sauces with hot chilli. She seemed to enjoy it! Having left a good quarter of my pizza (which was delicious but far too much) I asked the waiter to pass on my compliments to the chef as I didn't want him to think I didn't enjoy his specially picked out ingredients. The waiter proceeded to clear our table and take the dishes to the hatch of the kitchen where he said fairly loudly (presumably so we, as well as the chef, could hear) "Compliments to the chef!" Wasn't quite what I was expecting but perfectly in line with the quirkiness of the restaurant.

The bill came to less than £20 between us, the service was impeccable and the food delicious. Needless to say we'll be returning to Gino's.

Well hello

Recently, when browsing the internet looking for things to do and places to go in Oxford, I have realised that there are just not enough people blogging about the good, the bad and the downright ugly here.

I have stumbled across some real gems of places by pure chance and think more people should visit them.

I intend to write more about Oxford (and other places I visit) than pharmacy and my cats. However I find it hard not to talk about pharmacy and my cats so you'll just have to bear with me.

Ju xx